An out-of-print book series

This would have been my father-in-law’s birthday.

My father-in-law was a collector. He had old toys, Lionel trains and military artifacts. When he sent my daughter teddy bears, they were always limited editon. He sent the boxes separately. That’s how hardcore he was.

At the time of his death, I was reading a historical novel series that was eight thick volumes long. I was on book five. I owned the first six.

I knew that my father-in-law had read and loved this series. I knew he had tried without success to get his son to read it.

What I discovered when I was helping my husband empty the bedroom was that he displayed the entire set, still in its original shrinkwrap.

The painful part of this story is that the series by then was out of print. I had planned to hunt online for used versions of the final two books.

My husband said, “Look honey! What a big stroke of luck.”

“Oh no,” I protested. “Your father went out and got this set after he read a different copy. He knew they went out of print. He meant this set to stay pristine in its packaging. I’m not breaking that seal.”

My husband tattled on me to his mommy. She insisted I take the books.

I left New York without the books.

Back in California UPS brought a box with the clothes and sentimentals my husband had chosen to keep. At the bottom was the set of books.

My mother-in-law had put an end to the discussion. The cellophane was slashed in a big Z.

It bothered me to betray what was obviously my father-in-law’s wish.

I’m trying to even the score by fulfilling a different one. I’m reading the series aloud to his son. We’re on book three, and he’s loving it.


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